custom books

Sneak peek of Living Artfully, by Shannon Carter

Shannon Carter knows that preserving tradition is an act of love. Whether she is collecting and displaying family heirlooms, repurposing antiques, or artfully arranging collections, she prioritizes artful living alongside excellent craftsmanship. We were honored to publish a coffee-table book celebrating her love of tradition and inspiring others to collect, preserve, and display their treasures. (Additionally, she offers a few family recipes, one of which we preview here).

Here are a few exclusive photo excerpts from her book, Living Artfully, which will be available for sale in September. 

Living Artfully will sell for $40, and all proceeds from the book will be donated to the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Why "Cheap and Easy" Book Publishing Services Don't Always Cut It

Redefining Publishing In a recent article for TechCrunch, “How to Self-Publish a Bestseller: Publishing 3.0,” James Altucher traces the movement of publishing from the traditional, gatekeeper (or acquisition) model to today’s world of alternative, independent publishing. He also redefines publishing, arguing that it is no longer a difference between  traditional vs. self-publishing, but rather, a difference between professional and unprofessional publishing. A book could be traditionally published and remain unprofessional—with a poor cover or a lackluster marketing effort—or a book could be self-published with an excellent cover designer, editor, copy editor, and publicist and be a top-notch, professional product.

Our editor, John Baskin (right), working with custom book publishing client, Phil Nuxhall (left).

He traces the evolution of publishing through three primary stages: publishing 1.0 is the traditional, gatekeeper model (a system besieged by inefficiency and challenged by digital innovation), publishing 2.0 is the “cheap and easy” online self-publishing boom of 2010, and publishing 3.0 is the movement toward professional, well-orchestrated, self-published books.

At Orange Frazer, we welcome publishing 3.0, and here’s why.

Publishing 3.0 prizes craft, insisting that the best books require compelling and well-designed covers, impeccable editing and proofing, and smart publicity. With over three million books published every year, publishing 3.0 understands that only the professionally published books will stand out, and that traditional, capital-P-Publishers in New York are not necessarily the route to the most professional product. Altucher notes that the best of the best in the industry are moving into this new age of publishing; this is certainly what we have done at Orange Frazer.

Publishing 2.0: Cheap, Easy, Accessible, and Ubiquitous 

At Orange Frazer, we have been helping clients custom publish books for twenty-six years, and our book publishing services have evolved in that time to meet an ever-shifting demand. A few years ago, a parallel industry (publishing 2.0) emerged, an online, self-publishing behemoth with low barriers to entry and unbelievable potential. It seemed like every other week we were hearing about the latest “stars” of self-publishing. The story was always the same: they started off with a few Kindle self-published titles, sold and sold and sold until they hit the tens of thousands, and then the large, deep-pocketed publisher swooped in to pick them up and make them famous (this is the part of the story where they start selling hundreds of thousands of books, and, if you’re Penguin and you happened to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey, you are giving all of your employees $5000 Christmas bonuses, too).

Online self-publishing was, and still is, cheap and easy. You write your book in a Word document, upload the finished manuscript, create a cover using the provided tools, and that’s it. With a few clicks your book is available to the world, and you are an author.

This was an incredible move forward technologically, and it opened up the worlds of reading, writing, and book publishing to thousands that would not otherwise have been privy to them. The industry has employed thousands through various online outlets—Snapfish, Kindle Select, CreateSpace, Lulu, etc.—and it has made writing a viable career for many Americans.

Publishing 3.0: Professional Book Publishing Services

But this route isn’t necessarily for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for every book. Publishing 3.0 is a move toward a high-quality, finished, professional product. Take book covers, for example. An experienced book designer breaks down the elements of a successful book cover—the primary colors, the font, the text size, the image (is it literal or conceptual?), and even its associated genre (does it say mystery, crime, romance, literary fiction?). Book designers spend years perfecting their craft until they can create compelling covers that draw readers in and invite their questions and curiosity. Book covers aren’t just cover pages, they are artistic visualizations of a text or concept, and they tell the reader quite a lot with limited time and space.

And these kinds of book covers take time and talent. Our lead book designer, Brittany, has this graphic by Colin Harman posted next to her computer, and I think it is both humorous and fitting:

Graphic Design Image by Colin Harman

Altucher insists that in publishing 3.0 the author should curate each piece individually—the editor, designer, proofreader, publicist, etc. You can certainly go this route, but it may be time-consuming (you're doing a lot of "shopping around," so to speak). As an alternative, you can allow the publishing house to curate these pieces for you and invest in custom book publishing services. Orange Frazer has spent twenty-six years finding the best writers, editors, designers, photographers, researchers, indexers, and printers, ensuring that every book is a professional and high-quality product that we can put our name on. We insist on publishing 3.0, because we believe that authors and readers deserve the best books possible.

The pages of Revealed: Columbus arranged in our publisher's office. At OFP, each page is designed individually.

When is publishing 3.0 appropriate? Perhaps you are celebrating a milestone for your company, an anniversary, or even a family reunion. You may have a collection of stories to pass down to your grandchildren, or a portfolio of professional photographs that you would like to showcase. Maybe it is the companion piece to a museum exhibit or a novel that you hope to circulate among reviewers. There are times when you need a professional and high-quality product that represents your hard work and talent. And in a world besieged by books, you need to stand out.

What are your thoughts? We love to hear about our readers’ experiences, so share below in the comments if you feel so moved.

InnerVisions: Grassroots Stories of Truth and HOPE

Jan Thrope, Orange Frazer Press, Orange Frazer Press Custom Publishing The joys of custom book publishing: celebrating author success

One of the greatest joys of custom publishing is watching a book project not only succeed but evolve into an even greater, and more impactful, story. The anecdotes found in InnerVisions: Grassroots Stories of Truth and Hope have spiraled into plays, community gardens, rescues, renovations, senior centers, creative ideas for prison reform, and much, much more. The seedlings of hope sown in Jan Thrope’s reflections have grown into maturity, providing comfort, inspiring passion, and envisioning a stronger and more vibrant Cleveland. And we, as her custom publisher, have had the great pleasure of celebrating with Jan along the way.

The success the book has found nationally (look for it at Book Expo America this weekend!) is just one piece of this puzzle. Last year, her book was awarded the Next Generation Indie Book Award for nonfiction, and this year, her book has been honored as a Nautilus Book Award Silver Medal winner and a National Indie Excellence Award finalist. The book is clearly a testament to the hard work of Jan and her organization, and we are delighted that the message is felt so deeply across the country.

Nautilus Book Awards Silver MedalNational Indie Excellence Award Finalist

Beyond the book: celebrating hope in Cleveland

Perhaps the most fulfilling and heartwarming story in the evolution of her book is to see the resolution of several unsolved tragedies and community struggles. In the centerfold of the book there is a graphic depicting Cleveland’s lost teenagers, three of whom were found this past month after being kidnapped and held captive for over a decade. The Langston Hughes center, boarded up and neglected at the time the book was published, is now a renovated senior center. The boy at the beginning of the book, Rashon—whose real name is Darterius—is now gardening and building a chicken coop for his community. The evolution of hope has been real, measurable, dramatic, and inspiring. For more stories, and to hear the message from Jan herself, check out the Inner Visions blog.

There are books that stay close to your heart for years to come, and this is one that Orange Frazer will continue to celebrate as we watch for Jan’s success and cheer her on. We believe in our custom authors, and we are ever more grateful that we have the relationships with them that we do, that we can partake in their joy.

In her email to us announcing her most recent awards, Jan wrote: “I will forever be grateful to you for helping me bring my photos and words together so that my story could be ‘beautifully told.’ You live up to your mission!”

We believe that authors like Jan Thrope live up to their missions every day.

Self-Publishing: The Orange Frazer Way

With indie authors and self-publishing making the news quite frequently lately (see: Self-Published Titles Dominate Top of E-book Best-Sellers List), one might be surprised to see that the reception for self-publishing companies and author service companies is already souring. Not me. It was announced last Tuesday that several authors are suing Author Solutions (or iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford, AuthorHouse, as it is also conjectured they are all different heads of the same beast, see: Self-Publishers Want Millions From Penguin), and this is just one of many publicized complaints. Of the many arguments against self-publishing services and author service companies, here are a few key ones:

1)   These services profit from authors’ wishful thinking, idealism, and industry ignorance, charging thousands for services that don’t deliver and creating products that don’t live up to their promise.

2)   These services employ aggressive sales techniques that corner authors, making it difficult for them to understand their options, making it more likely for authors to accept contract terms that they may not be comfortable with.

3)   They do not provide authors with due royalties, nor do they provide accurate sales statements, if any statements at all.

The Empty Promises and Fraudulent Price Tags of Self-Publishing Services and Author Service Companies

First, the “promises” of worldwide distribution, books with all major retailers, widespread success, and social media prowess should make an author wary. No publisher can promise success, not even a traditional publishing houses with a large(r) marketing budgets and hefty connections. Even incredible books are often not picked up by major retailers, not reviewed by major bloggers, and not given the social media applause that they rightly deserve. Nothing has changed with self-publishing. It is still difficult.

Book reading is a niche market. According to the Pew Research Center, In 2011, almost twenty percent of people over the age of sixteen read no books, and thirty-two percent read less than five (remember, this is number of books read, not number of books purchased—the latter is likely to be smaller). The number of books published, however, has oversaturated this market, far exceeding demand. For example, in 2009, there were about 300,000 books published, and in 2010, when self-published ebooks boomed, there were over three million books published. You do the math. Not every book will be a runaway success; it would be impossible for every book published to have a large readership. Do not believe a publisher who promises, or attaches a price tag to, success.

Aggressive Sales Techniques, the Relentless Cold Call, and Opaque Contract Deals

This is our promise to our authors, clients, would-be authors, and would-be clients: we will not hound you, call you, email you obsessively, sign you up to spam email lists, or seduce you with vague offers and obtuse deals. We will reach out to you if we feel that you have something unique to offer, a story to tell, a legacy to celebrate, but we will always do it professionally and courteously.


When you self- or custom-publish a book, you should keep your rights. You might allow (or ask!) your self-publishing service to help you with distribution. In this case, the company will take a distributor’s cut, and may request terms similar to other distribution models to make it a simpler relationship for both you and the publisher/distributor. The publisher should not, however, require any ownership of the book. The self-publishing service is providing you with excellent (we hope) and professional (we hope) editing, copyediting, proofing, design, research, writing, photography, printing (if applicable), warehousing, and distribution services. Because you are paying for these services (and essentially bearing the “risk” of publishing), you own your book in the end, and therefore any money earned from its sale (aside from that which covers distribution costs).

With that established, you should be earning royalties. Royalties should be the money earned from a sale after retailers and distributors take their cuts. Make sure you can read your contract and understand your royalties before committing to a publisher. We’ve seen contracts given to our clients by other services, and frankly they are unconscionable. You should be able to understand your contract. An Orange Frazer contract is two and a half pages; it is concise, straightforward, and easily understandable. We send royalty reports to all of our authors and clients twice a year, so that we are always held accountable to our contract and to you. After all, self-publishing is a traditional business model. You pay for a service, and you receive a product that you can sell. Luckily for you, though, the product is a beautifully designed and long-lasting book, which makes this business model fun!

Our editor John Baskin talking over a book project with author Phil Nuxhall.

In Conclusion, What is Self-Publishing

There are many arenas of self- and custom-publishing, and those that show up on the e-book bestseller lists are only one portion of them. The grandfather who published an illustrated book of family stories for his friends and family is an indie author, despite the fact that there is no barcode on the book and no retail shelf in its future. The nonprofit community foundation that published a celebration of its home community is a self-published entity. There are many shapes and sizes and formats for self-published books, and we will only further misconstrue the industry (and its exciting potential) if we continue to muddle it with assumptions and generalizations. OFP helps individuals, nonprofits, educational institutions, families, community foundations, businesses, artists, chefs, and many, many others create meaningful and professional books, and we do it every day. This is the self-publishing world that we believe in.

The Orange Frazer Advantage: Five Things You Can Count On

There are hundreds of self-publishing services to choose from these days, but few distinguish themselves as custom publishing services. These two titles may seem synonymous, but we truly believe that high-quality and fully customized books are a very different product from self-published books. At OFP, we do custom books, and we're here to tell you what that means (the condensed version, that is).

 From the publisher's office: Jan Thrope with her book Inner Visions: Grassroots Stories of Truth and Hope, and Mia Coulton, author of Super Danny.

1. We will meet with you in person. We don’t have an online form. We don’t have bundled prices or package deals. We don’t work with templates, and we don’t make two books that look alike. Every project is new, and completely customized. We love making books that reflect the remarkable individuality of our authors and their stories, and that means meeting face-to-face and having an open, friendly, conversation.

2. We will demystify the publishing process for you, while connecting you with “worldwide distribution.”

It drives me nuts to hear this phrase thrown around online. Let us translate that for you: Amazon. At OFP we don’t use phrases like this all the time because we know they are largely abstract to an author, ambiguous but flashy. We will always be transparent with you. Yes, we can get you worldwide distribution—and that means a whole lot more than Amazon to us. We have the connections that only a true publisher can provide:

• Baker & Taylor distribution: the go-to distributor for libraries nationwide.

• Ingram: the largest book wholesale distributor in the world, supplying the giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

• Amazon: every custom book we publish is guaranteed an Amazon listing, if that is the author’s wish.

• Library of Congress: we will send two copies of each custom book to the queen of all libraries so that you have a library control number for use nationwide.

• ISBN: this stands for International Standard Book Number—Orange Frazer has its own block of ISBNs so that every book we publish is known as an Orange Frazer book

• Barcode: may be a no-brainer, but this is what enables you to actually sell your book in physical retail outlets

That’s a whole lot to absorb, but to simplify: we’ve got the connections, and we know what we’re doing. This is where custom publishing distinguishes itself from self-publishing. When you custom publish you get the connections, credibility, and professional look and feel of a true publisher, but in the end you still own your rights to your book.

3. We will make first-class services available to you, whether you need editing, copyediting, design, indexing, proofing…you get the point. We have been publishing for 25 years, we have award-winning editors, we have brilliant designers, and we have a whole team of people dedicated to each and every book project that comes in. When you publish with Orange Frazer, you get all of Orange Frazer.

4. We create books that look like they came from New York, but cost like they came from, well, friendly Midwesterners. We are good at what we do, and we are honest about it. We are a small and diverse team, and we publish because we can’t imagine doing anything else.

5. We are not salesmen. We will not hound you with follow-up calls, we will not push to you to sign, we will not sell you a print run of 10,000 books when we think 500 would be sufficient. We are honest and transparent, and we have no interest in hitting people over the head with our services. We may approach you because we’ve heard about you, because we are inspired by you, because we are intrigued by your story or your service or your company, but we will never chase after you, because it just isn’t who we are. Our authors find us in many ways, and we make sure that we are accessible to them at every turn, and that’s where the salesmanship ends.

In the end, the book will be what you want, because that is not how we measure our success. It’s not about the numbers or the print-run or the sales figures. It’s about your satisfaction with your book. And for OFP, that is what custom publishing really means.